About Tom Michaels

Tennessee Truffle founder Dr. Tom Michaels has been involved with the science and art of growing mushrooms and truffles literally his whole life. Growing up on the family mushroom farm in the 1950s in Naperville, Illinois, he fondly remembers his mom’s homemade mushroom soup, made with fresh portabello mushrooms. That was when portabellos were sold as off grades, long before the mushroom industry was aware of the treasure they had in them! After college (University of California, Berkeley) and a stint as an organic chemist with Shell Development Co., Tom received his M.S. degree (University of Nevada, Reno) researching – what else! – fungi. His Ph.D. dissertation (Oregon State University) on the cultivation of Perigord truffles pioneered techniques to lay the groundwork for growing them in North America. However, to raise a family, he put aside his speculative dreams of growing truffles and worked “real jobs” in mushroom research and development with Dole Foods and Monterey Mushrooms, Inc.

In 1999 he returned to truffle cultivation in earnest in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in eastern Tennessee. Perfect climate, hospitable soil, science, intuition and years of caring all came together, and in 2007 Tom produced the first commercial quantities of Perigord truffles grown in America, truffles which have received glowing praise from some of the countries top chefs (see accolades page).


Tom in action at a Lexus Food & Wine event

Lexus Presents: Fungi w/ 3 Fun Guys


Lexus, known for automotive innovation, presents Three Fun Guys with innovative ways to use truffles and the earthy flavor and aroma of truffle oil to create glamorous dishes that can transform a simple meal into a flavorful feast.

Meet Tom Michaels, American truffle farmer extraordinaire, who will tell you all about the labor-intensive process of growing truffles, which can take up to 10 years (similar to Lexus' pursuit of perfection with every vehicle it makes); Armando Manni, producer of exclusive, high-quality MANNI Olive Oils and a soon-to-be-released unique Organic Extra Virgin white truffle oil; and Stewart Woodman, 2006 Food and Wine Best New Chef and star chef/restaurant owner of Heidi's Minneapolis.